Winner of two 2019 Best of Burque Restaurants awards and local favorite (obviously), M’Tucci’s Italian has been at the forefront of making the Italian food scene in Albuquerque interesting. From their catering arm to their now four locations, M’Tucci’s Italian is sweeping the competition on expansion. We were lucky enough to get to sneak a peek at their newest location, M’Tucci’s Twenty-Five, and learn a little more about what makes this one different.
For starters, it’s located in the old Chama River Brewing location on Pan American Freeway, a place I have fond memories of, even if it was smoking my first cigar ever and getting nicotine sickness from it. The interior has been updated to reflect a more bright, inviting vibe, seating nearly 300 people. Even more impressive, they’ve hired more than 100 people to staff and run the new location. Plus, the soon to be added patio will put an extra 75 seats outside to be enjoyed during the warmer months, and what screams Italian more than sitting outside and drinking wine while having antipasto?
You may have eaten at M’Tucci’s Italian before, but don’t assume this is the same old hat as before. The chef team did a recent working tour of Tuscany and used their time and experiences there to craft most of the new menu. Of course, the longtime favorites and standbys will be on the menu, but expect more new than old, including a small lunch menu for people in the area looking to grab something quick and delicious.
I snuck into the kitchen during the grand opening and sat down to talk with some of the staff to find out a little more about the restaurant. It was a cohesive machine of hands working to pump out samples for the front, all of them working in tandem to make sure everything went out perfectly. Once things slowed down, I caught up with John Haas, executive chef and founding partner at M’Tucci’s Italian. Among questions on some of the kick-ass cookies I had tried, I wanted to know what separated this from the other locations. Haas told me, “I would say there's a lot of things that we did differently here. It's kind of been inspired by some of our trips recently to Italy, where we got introduced to a lot of people. We got shown a lot of things and I think it inspired us to do kind of a different feel and approach to the way the restaurant looks. As far as the food, I'd say our trips really helped us feel the soul of Italy. We spent a lot of time in Tuscany, we're in a small town working with these people, whether it's in their small little bakery or on their farm, where they’re raising Chianina [cattle], we really got opportunities to work with these people personally. We felt the passion and the pride that they have in what they do and they really invested in us too, because they knew that you're going out and carrying that to wherever you go, and they want you to display that form, too. So, I would say this is a very heartfelt venue for us. It's very thoughtful, and I think out of all the restaurants we've done, it's really the most complete thought from the ground up with how it's been designed and everything.”
As for how much has changed, Haas said 30 to 40 percent will be similar, but the rest is all new. I mentioned that I had come across some cookies out for people to try, and I shamelessly ate roughly 10 of them because they were so extraordinary. They turned out to be hazelnut shortbread cookies with a chocolate ganache filling, constructed similarly to an Oreo. When I mentioned that they touched my soul, Hass told me, “Yeah, we want to evoke emotions in people with what we're doing, I get it. So I'm glad it did. I'm glad you felt a connection to it. A lot of what we serve, there are hints to other foods that maybe resonates with people. Our beef ravioli has hints of beef stew in there, and people will be like, ‘I don’t know what that is about this, but I just love this!’”
M’Tucci’s Twenty-Five is officially open for business and is definitely worth checking out. We look forward to doing a full review in the future, but for now, know that they have assuredly hit authentic Italian straight on in a new way once again, and that alone is valuable enough.